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Randall Robinson Education. (2013)

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America 55, Haiti 45, Us 39, Randall Robinson 25, Mr. Robinson 20, United States 20, U.s. 15, Africa 14, South Africa 11, Jamaica 9, Washington 8, Aristide 7, China 7, Susan Rice 6, Libya 5, U.n. 5, Frederick Douglass 4, New York 4, Chicago 4, Greece 4,
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  CSPAN    Book TV In Depth    Randall Robinson   
   Education.  (2013)  

    February 4, 2013
    12:00 - 3:00am EST  

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>> there is a truncated version now it's turned in slavery and abuse for wordss to from any access to african
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history which is not which was what was intended. thos so obviously it is for thosehave people who have suffered so much coming and their families anybody left 200 and 46 years for nothing, but we owe them the sodry and have to expect people can survive with good sound saw could -- when ilogical help. when i was a child in richm richmond,on virginia, this phrase that we used all the time. from here to timbuktu. but, nobody knew what timbucktoo was. nobody knew the meaning of the
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word. didn't know where it was and didn't even know it was a place. timbucktoo of course was a crossroads of commerce but it was also a site the site of one of the world's first universities of san kora which was built before the blackmore's ilk the first university in spain at sala make a and 7-eleven a.d.. and so still in timbuktu you have all of these manuscripts written between five a.d. and 15 a.d., literature and support manuscripts of the highest quality written by african and arab scholars. and we knew nothing about it. we didn't know anything about the queen of sheba who is described by this claim of
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sheba. she. she lived all of her life and ox him which is approximately where it ethiopia is today. that sheba was and what is now yemen, but it was shortened to the queen of sheba. but the bible describes her as a woman of blacks can but in the movie it was played by gina lola bridget and sell all of our story was taken and the plot of all of this is people have history because they need it. people developed cultures and mores and issues because they need them to stay in good health. that is how we make social progress. a great jamaican once said that living without your story,
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without memory is like driving without a real memory -- rearview mirror except it's more dangerous to live without your story. so the point is that we were cut off from all of that and then renamed. when i was a child we were called. no one knew what the providence was at that word, where it came from and what it was supposed to mean but it was a part of the ball that was built to separate those who were stolen and used and exploited from their african story. and so if everyone in the world has a story so did we. the second thing is for example, they have the highest crime rate in the country, violent crime rate on indian reservations. the question is, like?
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what awful thing happened that would cause this situation for them? the same is true in the case of african-americans and when it was all over, this awful chapter from the beginning of slavery 246 years followed by virtually a century of pnh which people were essentially forced to work for knowing him in income in the south and then legal segregation before the end of the voting rights act, that nightmare had ended and during that nightmare untold sums of lives have been wrecked and the social damage is still witnessed and so we all an acknowledgment to the fact that this is not peculiar to the united states that you don't want to acknowledge.
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the people of turkey don't want to acknowledge the genocide against the people of 1915. jenna does not want to acknowledge its discriminations in tibet or in western china against the uyghur people. many nations hide from their past but we owe people the truth. we owe them their history and we owed them repair and we are not doing that. not only that, we don't even want to talk about it as a society. >> host: you say that this loss of heritage is comparable to the holocaust and some of the other genocides. >> guest: the holocaust was 12 years. this was 246 years plus the century that people lost where they lost their languages.
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they. they lost their culture, they lost everything. many people had their severed. people lost their tongues. thomas jefferson when he was a boy at two years old had a relationship with a 14-year-old girl, sally hammonds, that he owned and wasn't from the -- we know what it would be called today. that was routine. we lost any idea of who we were. it was our past, our memory was banished and we worked ourselves to an early death. rebuilt the capital, built the white house, and doubt harvard law school which was endowed by isaac royal from the proceeds and the sale of slaves that he
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owned and antigua in the west indies. these things were retained so any american institution transfers the wealth that they got from the work of people who were not paid to their families and making their line rich and impoverishing those who had been stolen and used in this way. >> host: mr. robinson how far back can you trace your family's history? >> guest: i am very fortunate in that we have pictures. i can go back to my grade, at great-grandparents with pictures and with my great great great grandparents with the story of their lives in the united
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states. but that is extremely lucky. >> host: it in "the debt" what america owes to blacks you wrote what white society must be induced to do, own up to slavery and acknowledge its debt to slavery's contemporary victims. pay that debt and massive restitution's. rebuild the black esteem it destroyed by democratizing access to a trove of history's to which blacks contributed to prominently. when you talk about slavery's contemporary victims, what do you mean? >> guest: when segregation ended, there were those of us, and i was very fortunate to, a headstrong parents and an intact family. both of my parents had finished college. my father taught history in high school.
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my mother taught until she stopped to rear for children. and that meant everything to us. and so while we were damaged by segregation and we have a home. we had a family that was intact, that was sound and that was strong. 's so many people didn't have that, so they were exposed to the brute sharp edge of what was happening to them. and i think there were some of us who were in a position to move out once segregation ended. i was among that group. until that time, do we and those who were -- were stuck in the same boat. we were closed in to each other.
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some of us were able to go up and out. others of us could not. and so, we cleaved into two parts i think even then and i am not sure that those institutions that fought so hard at one time have fought the same tenacious battles for those who remain stuck today. so we have got the largest prison population in the world. over 2 million people, of the largest in the world-3/4 of those who face the death penalty are black and hispanic. half of the prison population is black. because of the way people's lives have been involved but also because of the unfairness
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in our criminal justice system. we see that for non-violent drug crimes. we constitute 14% of those who commit those crimes but roughly if i still have the figures right, if something like that a 6% of those prosecuted and close to 75% of those incarcerated. one sentence for a pound of cocaine and another sentence for crack-cocaine. the pound is essentially what white people used. the sentence is much lower than it is for crack-cocaine which is what black people have used. so the system is unfair. the history has been cruel and in many cases very little has changed for those people. >> host: in "quitting america" you write for all of my life, i have wished only to live in america that would but reciprocate my loyalty.
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at country that would absorb -- exhort from the several and diverse mounts of its decision-making authority and ideal of public candor and unconditional compassion in a country that would say without reserve to its disadvantage to its involuntary victims to native americans to african-african- americans to the wretchedly poor of all colors stripes tongues and religions that your country wronged you in separate and discrete ways, gronke with horrific and lingering consequences, wronged you in some cases from long ago and for a very long time, to a degree that would morally compel any civilized nation serious and sustained attention. >> guest: we don't want to talk about it. we still don't want to talk about it. we run from it. we now call it victimization, so
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it's not to be raised. it's a sad truth. >> host: why did you leave the country? >> guest: well i was as much going to a place as leaving a place. i have been going to st. kitts in the caribbean for 25 years, and it's a small island. it is made for someone like me who doesn't like big crowded places, big cities. it's an exquisitely beautiful place with mountains and clear blue water and a kind of smallness that allows the kind of intimacy you seldom go downtown and don't see someone that you know.
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but the biggest piece of it is that the woman i loved and married is from st. kitts, so we had decided many years ago that we were going to build a home their, which we did 11 years ago. so hazel and i have been there all that time and our daughter khalia went to high school there and finished high school and came back here to college and so that was one reason the. i was also wary -- weary, tired of the struggle that had depleted me. america had worn me out. simply because there are things that can't be talked about, has
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no tolerance for that kind of honesty and has no plans to make anything right. as if it says, and and i heard it say we have stopped the act of crime, and so if there is damage, then we are walking away from that. it's as if to say at the end of slavery, you could sort of like in this to two runners in the race. you take it done and shoot one runner in both legs and sounds the gun and you say now run. you can't catch up. there are people who had had everything taken from them.
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and the things that are not material are even more important. it's your software. it's your interior plumbing. it's what you have been caused to think of yourself, how you see yourself, the confidence or lack thereof in which you're trying to run any race. it was drained from many people over that love period and it's not like anything that has happened. we are talking about the longest running massive crime against humanity, the last 1000 years in the world. it's not like we bombed not the sake and hiroshima. and it is incinerated hundreds of thousands of people and in literally minutes because if the japanese who survived can
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remember their literature, can remember their culture and their traditions and put it all back up again, if the people who have lost it all, mothers, fathers, children, traditions, cultures, ways of living, then they don't know how to begin. i have jewish friends and hazel and i some years ago when we were in washington went to a bar mitzvah to see the launching of this adolescent son into adulthood. bland praise comes say all these wonderful things about a child. such a wonderful cultural
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traditional right of a ceremony to practice. there have been things like that still practiced in africa but the lost all of that. so your cause to reinvent culture almost every generation, that's a lot of damage. and it has to be acknowledged and it has to be reckoned with. >> host: randall robinson how much time do you spend in the states now? >> guest: i come up a few times. i was the dean of penn state law school that i have known for a couple of years, philip mcconaumcconau ghey called me and asked me if i would like to teach human rights courses and i spent all of my life in human rights and growing out of what i've been talking about.
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i said i would be happy to, so i teach a human rights course at penn state law school and i come up about three times a semester. arrested that we do via video so it works wonderfully. >> host: have you kept your u.s. citizenship? >> guest: oh yes. >> host: why? >> guest: my mother and father and my grandparents survived that for me. it is my duty. >> host: in "quitting america" the departure of a black man from his native land written in 2004 and by the way have you changed any of your views since the election of barack obama? >> guest: i remember my mother when he was nominated, hazel and khalia and i were in montréal. she called me at the hotel.
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she was i think 93 then. she said, and she was crying. [inaudible] i didn't need that telling. i always knew this. america is many places. it is a place that can be tolerant and accepting, a place where views can be moderated and differences can be reconciled. and i think a good deal of america supported vigorously the candidacy of a rock obama. and it's not only important to the black community. it's important to other americans as well. but he still faces a sort of
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vicious kind of ridicule from certain borders that are not unlike the america we saw when i was young in richmond, virginia. but, i think there are several americans -- i had grown tired of at least one of them. >> host: and "quitting america" you wrote america never helps anyone, even the starving and list its proposed to an american interest either strategic or economic and one cannot always distinguish one from the other. >> guest: well that's certainly largely true in foreign assistance. foreign assistance always has to be associated with a strategic purpose. when we look at what we did as a
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country to haiti, to thomas jefferson did everything he could to defeat the haitian revolution. the only successful slave revolt in the history of the hemisphere if these people turned back an army from spain, armies of 60,000 apiece from england and france twice and won their freedom, opened their doors to freeing slaves all over the world, gave them a weapon and muskets and soldiers to fight for freedom and black america in exchange for freeing slaves there, a promise he didn't keep but they did all of these things and america did everything they
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could to quash this haitian quest for freedom for people who had been enslaved. and when they won their revolution, they took with it two-thirds of france's foreign income because that was the most valuable colony in the world. now, that survives even until now. frederick douglass spoke at the ship cargo world's fair in 1893 and mystified about how hostile the united states has always been towards haiti, hostile towards them because they won their freedom. we did everything we could to overthrow the democratically-elected government of president aristide.
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george bush blocked loans from the interamerican development foundation of $146 million loans for education, water and things like that. the international republican institute arranged and organized the opposition to it and then we as a country trained rebel soldiers in the dominican republic, trained and armed them to come to haiti to overthrow the government and then the last analysis, those were a pulse didn't figure into it. bush carried out the coup himself on american soldiers who arrived at the home of the president and took him off at 3:00 in the morning to the central african republic. we have to had to go there. maxine waters, a jamaican parliamentarian and sharon webster and the president's lawyer flew off to rescue him to
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bring him back to jamaica and then condoleezza rice threatened to make the jamaican government -- threatened to make it very difficult for them if jamaica accepted aristide even for a matter of days before he went to south africa. all because he said the minimum income ought to be raced from 1 dollar a day to $2 a day. the sweatshops of essentially white in haiti combined with american authorities to get him thrown out of office. if you look at the history of america and what we do and why we do it to, it is not a pretty picture. >> host: in your most recent nonfiction book, "an unbroken
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agony" haiti, from revolution to the kidnapping of a president from 2007 you write in haiti's 200 year history of one is hard put to identify a single episode of organized human suffering in which the u.s. did not play a direct, collateral or instigator of role. >> guest: we didn't recognize haiti until after the emancipation and the united states. from 1804 until the end of the civil war, week combined with all of the western powers to smother haiti, to destroy haiti and then in 1825 friends imposed sanctions on haiti saying that they had to be paid $21 billion for having lost the right to use haitian slaves. so it's the first time in
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history ever that the winner of a warhead to pay reparations to the loser. and then after 1950, woodrow wilson invades haiti and stays for 19 years, kills thousands of people with american marines and takes the peasant leader of the revolt in haiti in response to this invasion and nails him up on a board for public display to demonstrate to people what the consequences could be when you fight back against america. and then, a chain of black presidents working at the direction of the united states duvalier's son kills 50,000 people and that was fine.
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aristide, the first democratically-elected resident said we are responsible for the coup that took him out of office. the bush administration did it directly. not covered in the american press. the american press said that he fled to south africa, when he was taken to the central republic. we had to go there to rescue him and jamaica braved the american storm to keep them there until he could go to south africa. we were responsible for that overthrow of the democratic government in haiti. and the haitians we owe so much, because the haitian revolution first of all made possible the louisiana purchase because napoleon was done with the empire as a result of that
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humiliating thing. secondly, after haiti, after that revolution the north atlantic slave trade was ended by britain and the united states at the last sort of breath of that was the end of the civil war. all of this was precipitated by the haitian revolution. people in the united states know nothing about the history, nothing about the story including african-americans. so we owe so much to those haitians, ex-slaves, who defeated for the four of the most powerful armies in europe in the 12 and a half year war for their freedom. what. what a great story of history. >> host: this month on booktv's "in depth" program
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author and activist randall robinson. he is the author of five nonfiction books. here they are beginning in 1998, mr. robinson wrote in 2000 "the debt" what america owes to blacks and "the reckoning" what blacks owe to each other came out in 2002 and "quitting america" the departure of a black man from his native land in 2004 and finally "an unbroken agony" haiti, from revolution to the kidnapping of a president. 202 is area code if you would like to dial in and participate in our conversation with randall robinson 585-3880 for those of you in eastern and central timezones and 585-3881 in the mountain and pacific timezones. you. you can also contact us via e-mail or go booktv at c-span.org or social media. you can make a comment on our facebook page.
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facebook.com/booktv or send us a tweet at booktv -- @booktv is our twitter handle. randall robinson what is transafrica? >> guest: transafrica is the organization that i began in 1976 to galvanize african-american opinion on foreign-policy issues, particularly issues that concern the black world, u.s. policy towards africa, the caribbean and latin america. so transafrica of course was the organization that used its incher mentalities to galvanize american opposition to apartheid and with the embassy arrests that we were able to organize the arrest of 5000 people and in
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the 1980s and 1984 and the next year, and with that working with members of congress. we won the support for the set of sanctions that president reagan vetoed and his veto was overridden by a republican-controlled senate excess of the work we did and the millions we organized to make a difference. that, coupled with the great work that was being done in south africa led to a new africa that we see today. but we have been doing that work over a period of time. i had been there 25 years when i stepped down. >> host: who are maxey and doris robinson? >> guest: maxie robinson was my father and doris robinson was my mother.
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and i have already introduced you to them. they had strong opinions and they were extraordinary parents and they were extremely principled people. i remember when my brother max was with abc news as the chicago anchor and he had gone to smith college to make a speech. he was critical of abc and i was so proud of him because in him i saw my father and the kinds of things that he has stood for when we were children. >> host: did that hurt max robinson's career? >> guest: oh, itch or did. there's no question. but i think he thought as much as he loved his work, he thought
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there were a few things more important. >> host: and "defending the spirit" a black life in america you write about -- when were you born? and what was your first 20 years like, your first 18 years like? >> guest: two realities. i was happy in our home and family. epic family. i had brothers and sisters and everybody was nearby. we saw everybody and a lot of family all the time. and so all of that was wonderful and joyous but the conditions under which we were living were horrid. although i could go for works
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with -- weeks without seeing a white person the experience when you have them were -- every lesson that was taught was designed to teach you that you are inferior. and i remember caddying on a golf course and my father had encouraged me not to do it. >> host: and encouraged you not to do it? >> guest: no, carrying bags for people and i did it and i remember rattling the clubs in the bag on the green and this was a country club in virginia. the golfer turned to me and said if you rattle those clubs again i will rattle you. i dropped the bag and walked off and went home. it was sort of like that and some of them had us witnessing
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our parents having to accept what was going on. mother would have to put a cap on her head before she could try on a hat in the stores in the downtown richmond. one store, could tell those on gray street, you would just go in and stand and no one would wait on you. as if you were not there. and when we would even go to chinese restaurants to give food , the chinese had to live by these rules so we would have to go up some stairs to the kitchen and get the food to carry out. when it was empty except for us we would still have to sit in the back and behind the line. these things register on your psyche and they think they stay there for a lifetime.
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>> host: from "defending the spirit" winter 1967 cambridge massachusetts. you write, i have a ride from segregation is segregationists virginia to attend harvard law school. my first year of class of more than 500 students is divided into four sections. my section is sitting through a tort lecture given by a young professor charles free. professor freed was born in prague czechoslovakia in 1935 and was educated at princeton and oxford and columbia and will become solicitor general of the end ask -- u.s. under president ronald reagan. you talk about some of her classmates and one of them is mark joseph green, liberal democrat of cornell university in great neck new york. repressor freed asks, can anyone think of an actionable nuisance we haven't touched on today? mark joseph green says, what about black people moving into a neighborhood?
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a thoughtful discussion ensued and sanders looks at me. we all look at each other in our faces portrayed little. in any case the privileged young white scholars are oblivious. their legal arguments to be mustard pro and con. the discussion of whether not the mere presence of blacks constitutes an inherent nuisance swirls around the five bucks. we say nothing. we cannot dignify insults with reason for a bottle in the choices between ventilated rage and silence reaches silence. >> guest: mark was running for office in new york recently and i haven't seen them since that experience but when he was running for office someone had read that in the book and a journalist and asked me of course about it. i told him and something about that was published.
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mark did not deny it but he said he couldn't remember and i thought about the african proverb. they ask for gifts but the tree remembers. >> host: when you hear the term bill clinton is the first -- black president of the united states what are your thoughts? >> guest: oh my. i think it's absurd personally. i think sometimes we have been denied the highest attention for so long that when people attend our church and they know the hymns or they play the saxophone reasonably well, we accord them
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credit that is largely undeserved. bill clinton was returning that fleeing haitian refugees who had been fleeing the military dictatorship that we armed and supported in haiti, and he cordoned the place with ships and copies people and turned them over to their killers. in rwanda, in the u.n. it was ambassador madeleine albright who has to take some responsibility for it but deaths of 500,000 tutsis in rwanda because she single-handedly
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obstructed do you win intervention with the support of bill clinton. when a handful of nations and the caribbean, st. lucia, dominica and a few others, banana producing nation's, had a small slice of the european market to export their finance, though clinton fought and threatened with 100 or send those european countries that were given that market opportunity to the east caribbean banana producers who only produced bananas. that was what they're a common these were based on. but he wanted that tiny bit, that slice of market opportunity to go to chiquita bananas whose
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ceo was a big supporter of his. but he couldn't have been a big a supporter as the black community had to him and so that was taken away from those producers and caribbean economies were significantly damaged. when he was asked to reconcile the differences between the sentence for the use and sale of crack-cocaine and powder cocaine, he talked about it but never did anything. on human rights, he never ratified -- he weakened the treaty before the international criminal court, but he never ratified.
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i really don't understand when you look at his record, outside of naming blacks to positions, i don't see some of the not so well-known things of course would reveal that he did some rather unsavory things to the black community nationally. i don't understand much of what he did as the basis for black support. >> host:>> host: randall robinsn writes about former president clinton, the dead -- "the debt" sipri. mr. robinson was the last time you talked to the president? >> guest: to president clinton? i have never talked to him. when i was on a 28 day hunger strike, trying to get him to stop rounding up people and sending those people to their
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deaths in haiti, on the 28th day i was hospitalized, the 26th day, dehydrated and hospitalized and they thought i was going to die. he send sandy bergman who was my law school classmates to talk to me to see whether i was really dying and sandy came with an offer that if i would agree to end the hunger strike he would agree to screen haitian refugees. it was all i was asking for. when you are fleeing with it will founded fear of persecution under international human rights law, than all the member nations of the united nations have an obligation to provide refuge to you. that. that is all i was asking for. he knew these people were fleeing with a well-founded fear of ursa keeshan. we were supplying the weapons
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for these folks. but he kept doing it. but when the hunger strike publicized all of that and he thought i might die, he send sandy to make an offer. but i never once spoke to him. he's simply said to the press that he was glad that i was out there. i want to stay out there doing this and they never knew what he meant by that. i have never talked to him at all. >> host: what did you say to sandy? >> guest: it wasn't a long discussion. i was in bed and hazel was with me and i largely listened and he told me what the offer was and i told him that i would accept that offer. he asked if i would appear with him on "meet the press" i think
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sunday, which was the next day. i told him that i would. >> host: randall robinson is. >> host: randall robinson's or guess it now it's your turn. a call from bruce in marianna georgia. hi bruce. >> caller: thanks for having me on. i am black and i was born on the south side of chicago and i have two questions. the first question is, really, what has the black political class really done for us in terms of great victories in the last 40 years? this may be 1972, part from the illustrious careers. your career and barack's career. what have they done for us really since then a number two is susan rice nomination, when susan rice was nominated for secretary of state for whole
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black political class closed ranks around her as if she was some kind of martyr or as susan rice the undersecretary of african affairs in the clinton administration. she was a lobbyist for ethiopians and rwandans and our policy has been to give military aid to every country in africa. we have completely militarized our africa policy. we give military aid to every country on the continent except -- in libya and it's the only place where our foreign policy is totally integrated with our diplomacy. that is what africom is and all the wars there in the congo, six or 7 million people have died since the mid-90s and susan rice had been -- in blood. >> host: all right bruce, lot on the table there. randall robinson.
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>> guest: let me be brief about susan rice. i have been troubled by those associations that you have described. i don't know the extent of which the black political class has closed ranks or did close ranks around her. i have been out of the country a large part of the time although i do try to keep a, but i am not privy to that. i will say in defense of elected officials, i don't know that we could have won sanctions against south africa without the vigorous support of the congressional black caucus. every member of the congressional black caucus went to jail at the south african embassy and did a great deal to support the sanctions effort
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when we had a discussion about aristide. i was on the phone from my home in saint kitts when we were trying to find a place for him to be, after taken from the central african republic. maxine waters was on the call and charlie rangel was on the call and the prime minister of -- t.j. patterson of jamaica was on the call too and he told us that condoleezza rice had threatened him and the government of jamaica, if we would accept this democratically-elected president of haiti and jamaica, and he did it anyway but the caucus was very supportive and maxine was supportive.
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maxine waters, she went on this flight with us to the central african republic which was a dangerous mission to go and to meet with the president and the central african republic and to say to him as she did, i have to be back in congress but i'm not leaving here without president aristide and are you going to release him or not? he then called washington and he called paris and we were wheeled up with him, headed towards jamaica, him and his wife, an american citizen, american-born mildred aristide that had been up to it by the bush administration with the collaboration and the involvement of powell and condoleezza rice. and so the congressional black caucus under all of these things
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on the haiti issue as well as on the south african issue was solidly on the right side of the issue. >> host: what about the black political class as bruce mentioned in that call? >> guest: i think the bigger problem, the bigger problem is an american problem. and that is that most americans don't know very much about these issues. we are just not knowledgeable. you can't have a healthy democracy without the very enlightened citizenry and i am not sure that we know enough about what we are doing. if we are generally well bred enough, if we are connected to the outside world in a way that would give us stability, people
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on the outside see us differently than we see ourselves. they know in america what we don't know. and so, i think that applies to blacks as well as whites. >> host: gregory family or senior from what very minnesota in e-mails in, marching and protesting her old-school strategies. black folk have not evolved in the digital age. my opinion is we rely too much on emotional sympathetic appeals wind power and money moves the wheels in washington. what do you see going forward that can make for a more effective plan to advance our cause? >> guest: the reason i wrote my latest book, which is a novel , "makeda," has to do with
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the repair from the inside. i think this business of losing access to our story and our history has done incalculable damage to us, so that once real power -- one's real power to stand against the winds comes from inside and so it means that we have to know the world. we have to feel that we can change it and i don't think this is the kind of thing that you can charge two leaders along. it has to happen for everybody. and so this is a book about a grandmother who has lived previous lives. she was therefore the 11th dynasty in ancient egypt when
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mento hotel was in charge and had built this enormous empire and she was there in the first dynasty with armor. both of these egyptian leaders were black and we don't know anything about this. we don't know anything about the queen of sheba. we don't know anything about ethiopia and the dawn of christianity and ethiopia's role. we don't know anything about ancient molly where the people knew about the serious star system. they knew about stars that couldn't be seen with the naked eye and before the age of the telescope couldn't be seen at all. they had known about these stars for thousands of years. how they knew we don't know but they knew and they named them. and during the malian empire,
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the written constitution and the human rights flavor to the constitution. we don't know about these things and if you don't know your history, you are lost. and this book is about this wise and extraordinary woman who has had previous lives and she has seen a whole history from the age before slavery. and she tells it to her grandson so that he can be empowered by it. and so i think that is a part of our responsibility. we have to cause our country to give us a different kind of education about ourselves. we could learn something from native americans, something about climate change, something about how to treat the environment and something about culture and traditions. but we don't learn anything
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about anything, we only teach at it one way and that is the history that does not fit our petition particular situation. >> host:>> host: randall robinss your method or your lyricism and writing changed since moving to st. kitts full-time? >> guest: perhaps, perhaps because it's such a very lyrical place and it affords friendships of all kinds across and up and down socioeconomic lines, it's a wonderfully intimate place. it's been very good for me and good for my family. >> when you are writing for the looking at from where you are sitting? >> guest: i don't look at the water and i don't get anything
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done. i go in a room upstairs in the house and i turn the ceiling fan on number one and let it move slowly and it makes you contemplative you know. i sit there and hope that something happens and frequently it does. so i'm very happy about that. i wrote cata in st. kitts so maybe it reflects that. >> host: how often do you wear that nice suit in st. kitts? >> guest: never. there are occasions i go to the prime minister's love once a year and there are formal occasions that i have to put it on. i don't freak that we wear long
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pants. it's a different face and a different life. it is made from a. >> host: before we go back to calls, and "quitting america" you have a chapter on st. kitts. two islands? >> guest: two islands, 35,000 people, between 25 and 40 on st. kitts and 10,000. >> host: colonized by the english? >> guest: by the english. able, well managed democracy and fiercely democratic. >> host: chapter 7, money, "quitting america." singer whitney houston came here once on a private jet with her husband bobby brown, who upon emerging from customs with data rollup 100-dollar bills passing them out to petitions outside
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the terminal. many if not most of them gave the money back. americans would find this as mr. brown did, he notes gout well but he couldn't have had ample opportunity to understand very much about how the culture works here. >> guest: hazel and i were driving in the countryside and we saw a flamboyant trade that we liked growing in a field. flamboyant tree is one of the prettiest trees and limbs between june and september. it's a brilliant red, orange with something between and it's just a wonderful tree in every way. so, we located the tree and nothing is going on. and so, we stopped and said welr
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the tree? i am and american and use the i have unfortunately some manners i shouldn't have but because you have it occasionally people stop an american start somewhere in the middle of the conversation by getting to the point. how much we take for the tree and he says -- for you and that sort of thing. so of course i am interested in buying the tree. he looked at me and he said the tree is not for sale. and i said well, but it's not doing anything there. he said no, it's not for sale. so i said suppose i offered $500. it was a modest sized tree. it was not a. you could still dig it out and replant it.
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most things are fairly easily replanted in the caribbean. it rained so much and is so warm. this is not for sale. i said suppose i offered you $1000. he said no, at no. i said suppose i offered you $5000. the tree is not for sale. now, this whole business of what we call success, we only have one definition for success in america and that has to do with how much money you make and i don't think that is a fair definition. so here a neurosurgeon who is not terribly nice to his wife and children, he makes a lot of money and he's a success but the taxi driver even though he is an enormously wonderful father, and
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husband he is not a success. so what do you mean by success? i think that definition may be a little different than ours. it certainly doesn't have everything to do with money. you see, and so i think it sounds to some people when you start the discussion somewhat crass. >> host: how did you conclude your flamboyant tree negotiation? >> guest: i didn't get it. [laughter] i didn't get it. i did learn though that they grow very fast and you can get them small and you don't even have to have -- my mother gardened decorative flowers until she was at least
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93 and one i was a child -- to this is spending time in the yard because i loved it. i loved my hands in the soil just as she and we like to talk about plans in that sort of thing so that is one of the things i love about the caribbean because everything blooms all the time. and it's so wonderful. so you can get flamboyant trees rather easily and plant them. >> host: randall robinson you spent several years living in the d.c. area. is it easy to get intoxicated by the power that is available here? >> guest: here? >> host: yes. >> guest: it depends on who you are. it didn't take with me. i was never adjusted in that and
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it's not anything necessarily great to say about me. i'm just built that way and i'm essentially quite private, so i never liked the public side of what i used to do at all. and so i am very much a home person. there is no place in the world i want to be more than home. and so, whatever was happening here i think i held it built-in immunity to it. >> host: canton ohio you have been very patient you are on with author and activist randall robinson. >> caller: hello mr. robinson. is great to hear and i'm originally from mississippi and grew up in this south where my
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parents graduated from school. i dropped out of school but eventually i went back and went to college and moved to ohio and got a job. even the church and some time that people buy your history in america and how we treat one another and even the slavery. i'm a big fan of frederick douglass also. in a piece that he wrote, he writes the real question that all commanding question here is whether american justice and american liberty and american civilization, the american christianity can be made to include and protect all the rights of all american children. as black people we feel not educated by history and other countries and you know as i talk
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to people from where i came from my struggles with my parents if you live in the south, even sometimes the black people seem like they have not comprehended what i'm talking about. the struggle and where we came from and where we are now. >> host: let's get a response from randall robinson. >> guest: well, i understand very much how you feel. i think that you can't have offhand much reason for expectation of anything different. i have taken the position that i have taken particularly on reparations, because in my view
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it is our due. that doesn't mean that i expect that they will materialize even in my lifetime and not in the near-term future. but it is renovated when you know that it is our due. the question is, what do we have to do within ourselves to repair ourselves psychically and emotionally? i think that we have to learn as much as we can about our story. we have to read vigorously everything that we can put our hands-on. we have to make sure that our children get the best education we can win for them and that they have the right values.
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we have to do the best we can with what we have and we have to continue to say that doesn't come close to what we are owed for what we have been made to endure for a long, long, long period of time. we all inherit our starting place in life. for those of us who come from the families of wealth and those of us who come from families that are impoverished, and i'm not just talking about material wealth. i'm talking about social wealth and poverty. so the race is much more difficult for some of us then for others of us and it was made difficult because of what we had
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to face for 246 years. catching up without any recognition of that difficulty on the part of a government that benefits from slavery, on a part of the private sector in sections of our population that continued to benefit from that slavery. nonetheless, we have to understand ourselves of what we are owed and what our due is and continue to say that notwithstanding of whether or not that is except did on the other side. >> you are watching booktv on c-span2. every month the first sunday of the month is our "in depth" program, and a three hour discussion with one author and his or her body of work. this month it is author randall
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robinson. and if you can get through on the phone ended like to make make a comment on our facebook page you can go to facebook.com/booktv. like us on facebook and make a comment. furness smith asks this question on facebook or go hugh have seen the diaspora from different parts of the world. in 2013 when africa and those of african descent still trail and economic viability, what are your suggestions to gain empowerment without economics to politics won't ever work. >> i agree with that. we need to -- it seems to be to retool our values to some extent, to balance them, overbalance them towards entrepreneurship. we need to invest in our energy.
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we need to know that there is very little that can be done without money. we have to be in a position to and l. our own efforts. we don't have that kind of money now. we don't own any news broadcast or major organs so we are still depending on other people in their newsrooms where decisions are made often by groups of people that don't include any of us to make decisions to tell stories that would favor us about our situation, about our history, about our journey and that won't happen until we are in a position to make that happen. and so, i often thought when i
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was a young basketball player and have thought more about it since, that it's much better to own the team than to play on the team. and we have got to get that lesson through our heads. we have got to understand, for instance that in the caribbean there are caribbean mothers who tell their children when they come to the united states to a college, don't associate with african-americans. they do this because of what they see on american television. they watch american reality shows and those shows picture us in a very unfavorable light. they don't show us in the
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college's, they don't show us in graduate programs, they don't show us excelling in science and they don't show any of that. they show the worst possible things about us and it is very offputting to people who watch these shows around the world. well, somebody is making a lot of money from the shows. i'm not sure that this is the same thing, old wine in new bottles, making use of us in that way. sort of self disparaging stuff that makes a lot of money for producers and writers and other people behind the cameras. camera's. but we don't make the decisions to put the shows on. but they are there. we have to be in a position to control these sorts of operations and these sorts of
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operations so we have to repair our young people to aspire to that, to not only make the movies and to not only be in them but to direct, to greenlight them. we are not in a position now in hollywood or anyplace else. "the new york times" didn't even cover aristide's being taken off in the middle of the night to the central african republic. >> host: what about lydia fullgrain. did she try to get on the plane with you? >> guest: well, libya had gone to the bicentennial and described the hundreds of thousands of people, something close to 1 million people at the small but enthusiastic crowd.
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i do think it is often the case that black writers in publications do things that disparage the black community, facilitate upward mobility in their jobs. and i decided that she wasn't the right person to have on the plane. amy goodman was there from democracy now and the reporter from "the washington post." but by and large this story was an extraordinary story. it was not covered by "the new york times" at all. zip, nothing. how. how could they not cover it? what kind of journalism is that? >> host: gary post-on our facebook page, in lieu of supporting questionable regimes in africa, chinas and its trade
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deals with african nations built schools and hospitals and other in the structure needs of the masses instead of massive cash payments to warlords and the like. any chance the u.s. could follow suit? >> guest: well, i am fearful of chinese motives as well. and because i am critical of apologists from our country i have a responsibility to practice that criticism and that is what constructs democracy is all about but i am not happy about china either. china has a horrible human rights policy. china is a one-party dictatorship and its treatment of its own citizens and particularly what it has done in tibet and western china to the weaker people. so i -- i am very wary about chinese motives in africa.
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>> host: the next call for randall robinson comes from mark in minneapolis. mark, you are on booktv on c-span2. >> caller: thank you. hi mr. robinson. >> guest: hi, how are you? >> caller: i'm fine. mr. robinson i'm a new york city kid born in 1959 so i've seen a lot of america and history but i want to talk securely about the mining industry worldwide and particularly what's going on in africa and is there a connection to possible mining in minnesota with certain companies? i have looked at some of the ceos and it's pretty much american educated and just wondering how this wall street and washington fit in -- [inaudible] >> guest: i am not sure i understand your question. i am not an expert in mining but i don't know how to approach it
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because i'm not sure i understand what you you are saying. >> host: on our twitter page @looks deep tv ron fraser tweets in did you ask randall robinson who he thinks would make a better u.s. envoy to haiti than bill clinton and why? >> guest: any number of people are envoys are message carriers. right now our policy towards haiti is so bad that we would do haiti a service if the united states after 200 years of meddling would leave haiti alone. virtually all of our policies have been anti-democratic for haiti. i have felt strongly when i was characterized as a friend of president aristide's, i would
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always say that is not the issue. i have never been for aristide politically because that is not for me. i wasn't for nelson mandela in south africa. i was for affording the south african people and the haitian people the right to choose for themselves who their political leaders would be. the administration now has of course embraced elections in haiti that banned the largest political party from participating. that is not democracy. we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. president obama took some pains to try to block president aristide's returned to his country from south africa.
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that is a violation of the international covenant on civil and political rights which the united states is a part of. we cannot block people from leaving the country nor can you block them from returning to their own country. and so if not the letter certainly the president violated the spirit of our legal binding obligation under that international human rights treaty. >> host: where is former president aristide right now? >> guest: he is in haiti. >> host: where is a living? the living? >> guest: he is back in his home and he is operating the school that he operated before so he is doing service work. >> host: dessi of security? >> guest: i don't know. i don't know if he has what would be warranted. i just don't know.
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while we talk to them -- we can't talk to them about things like that on the phone. and so we don't touch on that. but we are in touch. >> host: from "quitting america" the departure of a black man from his native land you write that america is a democracy because america says it is a democracy. america is godly and good and perfect because america says it is godly and good and perfect. these truths must be truths because america's voice is the only voice america hears. >> guest: that is very true. particularly true in human rights. we have these wonderful human rights instruments that came on stream with the founding of the united nations after 1945 spearheaded in many ways by franklin roosevelt and eleanor
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roosevelt and the universal declaration of human rights and the great conventions that followed that and much with the agitation of the developing world for the end of colonialism, the end of discrimination and all of this. so because the united states won the war it largely had a bigger stamp than anyone else on the language of the human rights covenants. and so much of what you see in the covenant on civil and political rights you will see in american -- in the american constitution. a big similarity. but it's important to realize at the same time all of these countries across the world have ratified these important
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conventions. the united states has not ratified -- would not ratify the convention to protect the interest of children. we have not ratified the convention to protect women and just recently the senate failed to ratify the convention to care for those in the world with disabilities and voted not to ratify the convention after listening to a plea from bob dole, making that plea from a wheelchair before the senate. so many of the important human rights treaties we have not ratified and were ratified by virtually every country in the world but the united states. our feeling is that is for you.
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it is not for us. we are exceptional. there is nothing above our supreme court. there is no law, there is no idea and there's no theory and we seldom listen to other voices. we only listen to our own. that is the truth internationally and particularly in international human rights law. >> host: symbian symbian can't think hello for new good afternoon. >> caller: good afternoon. it's a pleasure to hear you mr. robinson. i am greatly impressed by you. my question for you is to ask you, what is your opinion relative to the movement for national reparations for the descendents of lack african slaves in america? that is my first question and my second question is, how do we
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address this issue of african-american politicians who are political prisoners in america particularly in california and to qualify that question, we have -- >> guest: me maya answer your first question first and then you come back to me with your second question again? >> caller: sure. >> guest: let's talk about reparations first of all. we have supportive -- supported reparations for for the jewish who were used as forced labor by volkswagen turing world war ii and the clinton administration supported that. we have supported reparations for japanese and these are proper and the right things to have been done. reparations for japanese who
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returned during world war ii was a terrible thing to intern people who were american citizens in that fashion. we have supported something that one could call reparations for native americans. but when the question comes up for reparations for the descendents of slaves, america's huge enterprise of wronging as i have said, the longest running human rights crime in the world over the last thousand years. not only is it not discussed and analyzed and spoken about and
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responded to, it's just out of hand and that is not proper and it is not acceptable. but it is most important that the descendents of those people who were ground into the dust under the profit making wheels of slavery ,-com,-com ma it is most important that those people recognize that we recognize that no matter what america, official america does, we know what we are owed. we know what happens and we know that there is a story of us ,-com,-com ma the longer part of our history occurred before slavery. thousands of years when the great pyramid was built. 5000 years ago, by pharaoh.
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this is now authenticated that he was very black, as were many of the other pharaohs and it turns out the only ones we know much about is cleopatra because she was descended from greek ancestry. so we know about her but virtually everything in egypt have been built by then and built by black egyptians long before the arrival of arabs in north africa. we should know this history. we. we should know all of this history. but we have been cut off from it. when i was a child, as i may have said before, woodson grew up not far from where i grew up but his book the education of
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the was not allowed in richmond public schools. he was a harvard ph.d. but his work was not acceptable because it was telling something we needed to know about ourselves and we could not be allowed to know. bu . .n the last analysis i think even more damaging than the theft of our higher that has bacterial sort of quantification to it is even more important to that is the effect of our story. that we don't know who we are. as ralph ellison said when i ber who i >> as ralph ellison said, when i discovered who i am, i will be
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free. with >> host: cynthia, go ahead with your second question.ion >> caller: my second question is african american leaders who are currently political prisoners in america today.cal speaking specispecifically to people thafit i know who are at, attorneys, graduates of usc, and phd holders who are leaders in the black community. those who have been sentenced to 16 years in a federal prison for mail fraud.
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they wanted to make certain that he could not run for office again i would like to thank you. that for my family, we cannot trace our family history peregriney parents. it is still important that we teach our children who they are.
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>> guest: i don't have enoughacf understanding of the particularr facts of these cases to make aot judgment.bout i would have to know more about whether there was or appears to be mistreatment or not. i just do not know enough, and i do not have any facts on the case of at all. >> host: mr. robinson, you write an any case america has all but ceased efforts on domestic, racial, and social justice issues, even the wholesome words have disappeared from the public choice. republicans as well as democratic administrations must anoint for flattery, said on that cabinet meeting, but no unseemly to do is made by them
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on the general conditions of blacks and other causes of such or possible solutions. >> guest: i will give you an example. the evening that this young boy was abducted from his homeome before 3:00 a.m. the next ne morning when the american marines special forces arrived n to be flown into the night, i called the president. voic an american voice answered they foreign. that was very strange. i saihed i would like to speak o so-and-so, he or she is not care. here. , d so then the lines were cut.y an individual was to go to haiti
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the next day on sunday, february 29.as mywo wife, who is working at thg time, along with the former commerce man, was making the arrangement. he called to say the trip is thd off. that he had just spoken to the p secretary of state mcconnell and that colin powell had said thate the thugs, the rebels werehe coming to port-au-prince next day t on sunday to kill the president. the rebel had said that he was going to do that.that. sunday, the 29th of february was to kilrthday. birthdayed to kill him on his
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birthday. that is what powell told him. td he also said they do nothing toe protect the president or to defendes him.s securi the president's security agentsm from the west coast had checked to see already if the u.s. wouls do anything to defend the the embassy. to help them control the rebels. the u.s. said they would not. wh he waident was all alone. colin powell had to have known
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htis.ter that nig when they did not flee, at least later that night when i got thal his life was under threat, innir called him, i called peter jennings at abc news, george att the ap, randall pinkston at cbs, and i said that my understanding is that colin powell has told'r him that they are coming to kill the president onre sunday.this. get news on to t this. they saiad well, we have to talk to ron, though i gave them the d number. back andled and then peter not ings called back and said rhonda will not confirm that hew had any conversation with peteri -- i mean, what the secretary of
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powell. but the president knew that they portu-prince, long way from port-au-prince. so he did not fight him. go they didn't go anywhere.k and he stayed in the city the entirt week and into theo night.es then the special forces arrived. they adopted him, took him and i his wife against their will, and ra were told that the immig immigration papers were inconsistent.
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the prime minister gave theuth seven days before they could go to south africa, but the american role in the, colin cin powell's role was indefensible. >> host: why do you think the change from what ron told you? >> guest: you would have to askd him. a matter of fact, the month following, all of that, we called them three times. the call was never returned. i never spoke to him. >> host: have you known him for long? >> guest: twenty years. years. >> host: we have another hour and a half today in our program with randall robinson, the author of five nonfiction books, including this one, "the debt:f one, america owes to blacks."
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mr. robinson begins with thisca book talking about the u.s. mr.r capitolob rotunda.alking about we will show you just a little bit of video and then the c-span archives of mr. robinson talking about that.about it. >> she called one of his writing the book that we will talk about tonight in a book signing here at the building. she urged me to come down to tht rotunda and talk. i have been there and worked there many times. s and i'll operates for the victims as well. i came down, and she said, look up. and i looked up and saw a painting on the eye of the rotunda. it is called the apotheosis of george washington. it represents the ideals and objectives of americangeorges
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democracy. george washington is surrounded by 60 6 feet world figures, all of whom aree white area on the e of of the dome , there is a depiction of history from the don of exploration until aviation era.acks no black people period. it is not reflected in the capital. down at ground level, there are massive eating, oil paintings set into stone. no blacks can be found anywhere. upon examination i have discovered that the stone were cut in virginia.
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it was brought put into place be slaves.and hois it wates cast and reassembled a hoisted to the top of the capitol building. by slaves. the forest between the capitold and the white house is clear due slaves. viims of not even anything to commemorate the victims of the american holocaust ♪ single
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♪ ♪ [music playing] single ♪ ♪ ♪ [music playing] ♪ ♪ [music playing] ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ [music playing] ♪ ♪ [music playing] ♪ ♪ [music playing]
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♪ ♪son is our >> host: randall robinson is ous guest on "in depth." we have one hour 15 minutes left.your we have a guest from duluth,all >>legia, who has a question. >> caller: thank you so much,ra randall robinson and c-span. sl. bear with me, i have three have questions for randall robinson. first of all, i have been a wi follower of your work. i really want to thank you for your struggle and all of the things you have done for black people all over the world.now, >> guest: thank you, sir. >> caller: the first of my threq
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questions is question number imm one. what is your idea about your philosophy. your work for human rights, ford black people in america, and all over the world highlight many egregious violations of humans y rights by the american empire. is this any different from any empire in history -- second >> host: if you could, very quickly, your second and third questions. we will try to get all three. in >> caller: okay, what is your l, view about libya. the third question is as at radical democrat, what about thi
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king tmshat declared himself president for life in africa against western imperial efforts to do anything to remove him through through his adversary. >> host: are you originally from ghana? >> caller: yes, i am. >> h >> host: thank you for calling. randall robinson, imperialism, o comparing it to the roman imper, empire. >> guest: well, we have a inritary footprint in many countries. one of the reasons we are so intern resistant to ratifying the international criminal court, is that we do not want to see arcud circumstance under which any had american beheld before theal international criminal court. for anything at any time.n't
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so the countries that don't have that kind of exposure, those exo that are not involved in awars e mamber of wars at the same time and not involved with so many te countries in a military fashion. they do not have the same risk as the united states tries. i think it describes what we are doing. interested in after world war ii, opening the world for american trade and americanse products and to develop thiserii market for americans and what american businesses, to do what we need to do. that takes on some of the empir
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earmarks of the empire. you know, so i think it is a rare description to say and caln it an american empire. but i don't think that the comparisons to the roman empirea are perhaps still act.differ because the times are so different. do we use the military to accomplish some of these objectives? probably. are we interested in this? yes. we tolerate human rights crimes in china. crush at the same time, we try to crush cuba. cuba is doing the best it can to develop its health care system. under the american embargo theye
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had almost no catheters or any other kind of medical men.that there were certain surgeriese of that were made and possible because of the american embargo and the children were dying in wba for that reason. we continued to throttle cuba.d but we would never consider doing such a thing to china because it would not be in our best interest to do so. it would not be good to do that in china. >>e second question was? >> host: the h u.s. role. >> guest: i think that was unfortunate. i never believed her never wanted to believe or want tosouh send the u.s. military to right wrongs. i thought itak would be a mistae there. i thought it was a mistake in i don' libya.
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i don't think that is the way td build democracy. hrytime you create a downfall t through undemocratic military te means, you find the restoration of order very difficult thing te compost. so the problems follow you in thosees cases. diff but that doesn't mean that they are not difficult and troubling consequences that follow on the heels of these kinds of did enterprises. i think that was a mistake to do what we did in libya. also the way it was executed. the thought that we might bear some responsibility for that was more than unfortunate. >> host: finally come and the political situation.
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wasn't perfect. although, i thought he was a modest scholar. his i read a great deal of his work. very closely and was impressed by it. he had a special connection to the united states, as you know. he was a graduate of lincolnivey university in pennsylvania. he was the first country innc 1957, the country of ghana, to establish independence, which gave the black community and the united states a great deal of reme god. i have felt that pride. i remember watching on americanr television. but when too much power is concentrated, generally we see evidence of o situations of thoe
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who came to do good but stayed to do well. i do not know the extent to were whether they were ever proven oa cose, he was overthrown when he was out of the country, of course, in china. of course, that was the end of the story. he only had so much to say about africa. because he was saying things about the united states and africa, a sort of prioritizing above the interests of those who would want to make use of africa, those people vigorouslyr tried to do anything for their own population.ay,
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lift people, they collected t enemies veryh quickly. i think that was the case of senator d chris dodd, who said when all of this was going on but the president had gotten sof oscillates -- she had gotten sod see from this is the part that we don't i ee from the outside. that haiti is a race and class-based society.ent wh but here was a president who werehe to raise the peasantry
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because that was the ranks from which he sprang to lighten the load and ease the misery by raising the pay from a dollar up to $2 per day.lone had that had created anwealthy, unforgettable offense to the wealthy. the u.s. was bound up was bound with that group. there was race and class that was attracted to the united states and american money as well who wanted to invest in and then the sweatshops that didn't want any minimum wh wage raised for what it had been on a while. >> host: we are talking with randall robinson, the author of five nonfiction books. the in 1998, "defending the spirit: a black life in america." "the debt: what america owes to and ks", the year 2000. in 2002, "the reckoning: what
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blacks owe to each other." "quitting america: the departure of a black man from his native land", that came out in 2004.ve in his most recent nonfiction book came out in 2007."an "an unbroken agony: haiti, from revolution to the kidnapping of any president". randall robinson is also the t author of this new novel, "makeda", which is a story. >> guest: yes, a grandmother that has had previous lives who relates to>> her grandson wantsr be a writer. be wshe wants them to feel that great pride and possibility. she wants them to know that they time is in which he is living take up a small space in our long existence. and she have known better times that we will see again.
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she tells him of those times >> hos lotse in command in egypt when i that was the greatest nation in the world.yo >> host: lots of facebook comments. >>u participate in social media websites and etc.? >> guest: i have no clue. [laughter] not at all. i think these things must beeb >>nerational. >> host: you do have a website, randall robinson.com. you can see all of his books on thatbi website. commen we have a comment common on ourt facebook page, you justopledo mentioned that we, as a people, do not have access to media outlets. how car, we can have access to the largest media outlet, the internet. how can we encourage the
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harnessing of the potential power? think >> guest: well, i think that popular media is a major force.g i think the young people understand the potential of thae force and we have to use it. a when i was talking a while ago, i was talking about corporate broadcast media to decide what to tell people about themselves. more importantly, to decide what not to tell people about what is going on in the world. that is a lot of powers smalltrated and it is managed largely by small groups of countr whites around the country. even in publishing.
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it's more difficult to get serious books published by blaca authors then it had been. di and so these are very difficult times for black people who want to say something. things that need to be fed. all we, as a nation, all have thei e buriosity. i think we need to tell not th fewer stories, but moree storie. i want to know the native american story. i want to know about their abo wonderful music and their culture and traditions. their oneness with the earth and the environment.ironme hewant tont know about latino tt ofericans in the story of the south west of america. the story of texas when it was n
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mexico. i want to know all of that. i want to know the asian now,ican story. that is what american history he has to do. we have to know each other'sthe. stories. .. fall. we'd be hess inclined to -- less inclined to say that our concerns stop t -- stop at our borders, that we should all be concerned about humankind. no matter where one lives, we are concerned about their lot, and we cultivate that concern when we know their stories. but we don't do that. >> host: back to our facebook page, jack comments: so happy to see and hear randall robinson on "in depth." now if we could just delete all the heritage foundation
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programs. and i read that because i wanted to ask you, we hear this often on c-span where people are only watching what they agree with. what's your viewing habit, what's your reading habit? >> guest: well, let me say this about c-span, first of all. and i said it to brian lamb many years ago. this story is, this operation, this c-span is one of the great contributions to democracy because you have without prejudice all voices expressing themselves, and it's important that we all have an opportunity to hear all of those voices. so i, i think that the heritage foundation voice is a voice to
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be heard. and i wouldn't even argue against a slice of life television offerings that one sees as long as they're proportionate. if you're telling a story of a population, of the american population, then tell the story of poverty from appalachia to other kinds of poverty. tell it all. if we're talking about the less pleasant expressions from the american cultural range, let's cover the whole range from top to bottom, from east to west, from north to south. let's cover ever everything. let's see the whole picture. but that is not what is happening, the way i see it. particularly in the black community, that's not what is happening. so i'm just saying that we have to have better representation in the room in which decisions are made about what to cover and how
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to do it and how to apportion time and resources to each piece of that. we're not going in the right direction there, we're going away from that direction as far as i can see publishing. in the print industry, television, in the whole thing about some facility to get people to know what they need to know. not just in america, but in the entire world we need to know more about the world. and so often we find that the world knows more about we than we to about them. when i got to -- [inaudible] in 1970, i recall talking to a kid who was 14 years old. his name was godfrey, and he approached me in the street and started talking about thomas jefferson and jeffersonian democracy. and i was stunned because there
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were teachers i knew and americans generally who couldn't find tanzania on a map. they know more about you than you know about them. that's sad. exceptionalism has cost us a knowledge of much of the world. it's almost one can liken to years in high school when you knew the kids who finished ahead of you, but you can't remember anybody who was in the class behind you. we happen to think that people because they're poor are less important. that's a sad state to be in. >> host: gus,ing facebook page. with all due respect, i think your words further entitle many
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blacks to find excuse instead of getting to work and doing better. we all have our injustices to overcome. sir, you're speaking of 200 years ago. >> guest: let's objectify this for a second. let me use u.n. human rights language. let's say the criteria were not just race, but race, color, religion, gender, nationality, political opinion. you take any one of those and say we're going to select our people from this category by gender or by religion or by nationality or by political opinion, and we're going to take all of those people that we can find, and we're going to enslave them for 246 years and follow
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that with a legally-enforced period of peonage, which is slavery under another name, and then follow that by legal segregation. and then take away their names and then rename their group so that they are no longer africans, but they become some strange, odd label, negroes. whatever that is or wherever or that came from, they'll be known by that. so they lose all their tradition, all of their mores, all of their yeses and noes about what not to do and how we do things from the dawn of time. and they don't know themselves anymore.
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it doesn't make any difference whether they're black or or not. take the caller. take his profile. to that to him. -- do that to r him and see where his descendants fall after two and a half centuries. it has nothing to do with any particular race. it would happen to anyone treated in that way. now, this is not personal. i'm not saying that anyone has a responsibility, any individual has any responsibility for what happened, began to happen a long time ago. i'm saying our government is corporate, it's an institution.
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it benefited, and it has a responsibility. and so reparations were paid. i'm a taxpayer. i would be paying them. i'm not suggesting that i would get reparations. i don't want need repair. i'm saying those who -- i don't need repair. i'm saying those that have been crushed would get some recognition of what happened and some opportunity to repair themselves. why else do you think we see this disproportionate success/failure gap? wealth assets gap? we know that people are equally naturally endowed. that can't be the problem. how else could have happened? -- how else could it have happened?
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three and a half centuries of slavery and near slavery. >> host: in your first nonfiction book, "defending the spirit: a black life in america," you write: though it is no longer fashionable to say it, i am obsessively black. race is an overarching aspect of my identity. america has made me this way. or, more accurately, white americans have made me this way. you go on to write that in the autumn of my life i am left regarding white people before knowing them individually with irreducible mistrust and dull dislike. >> guest: that's right. when i was a little boy, i remember at the age of 5 people started to talk about race. i thought it was absurd. i couldn't distinguish one from
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the other. people are people. but the wounds add up. as i say, they register beneath the surface. and while things are forgotten in the conscious mind, they're remembered in other places. and so this question about what i wrote then has to do with an involuntary reflects that one is a member of a group that did horrible things to me and to my mother and to my father and to everyone i knew. do does that mean that's a permanent status?
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no. but that's a reflects and would be for anyone subjected -- a reflects and would be for anyone subjected to the kinds of things that we were and many still are being subjected to. >> caller: pascal, good afternoon. you're on with randall robinson. >> caller: good afternoon, sir. you came to my undergraduate school when i was in college during the south africa protests and spoke with their work in transafrica, and i remember you vividly at that time. that was in 986. -- 1986. and i have three questions, but my first question to you is currently we have the first black president that is being celebrated by, you know, america and many people in our
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community, and i want to ask you as the former head of transafrica, how do you feel about the fact that our first black president currently is sending american troops into 35 african countries and that there's almost a complete silence on the part of the black intelligentsia and the black political elite in that regard and to the point where they would actually be astonished by the fact that someone with the track record and the amount of blood on our hands, african blood on her hands, susan rice would not be appointed secretary of state considering the history she has related to the african continue innocent, particularly in the congo, rwanda, and i'm sure you're well aware of that damaging history. >> host: pascal, your other two questions? >> caller: my other question is regarding haiti, the fact that our current relationship with
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haiti basically is, you know, basically we are outsourcing our rulership of that country to ngos and all these other entities. what do you see as a possibility in this current situation to resolve that difficulty in the terms of america basically having destabilized haiti for the majority of the century, and what could be done? i know earlier you said that we should just leave it alone and, frankly, i wish it were that simple, but i don't see it as being a reality. >> host: and did you have one more? >> caller: my last question is how can we possibly awaken the spirit of not so much the black underclass, but the black elite and educated who are, who have become particularly in this political age so complicit in the silencing of any dissent from what is happening in the world and domestically facing
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our people and the people throughout the country who are suffering umped the policy -- under the policies of our current administrative regime? >> host: thank you, pascal. >> guest: maybe i should start with haiti. when i said that perhaps we should just leave it alone, i meant alternative to what we have done for 200 years. even frederick douglass couldn't puzzle out why we had been so hostile. the speech he gave in chicago to the world's fair in the 1890s was a speech that would be appropriate now, as a matter of fact, when he was talking about the haitian president. it sounded as if he knew president aristed and knew what had befallen him. but that is standard fare from the u.s. over the last 200 years. and why? what distinguishes haiti from
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the rest of the caribbean? they are, in the rest of the caribbean democratic, stable governments from end to end with friendships with the united states, open goth where all of -- open government where all of the freedoms are enjoyed, speech, religion and all the rest. haiti is an extraordinary place. it is eight million people. it's, its arts are world class, some of the best painters in the world. it's portrait, its literature. haiti has everything going for it. but why has the u.s. singled out haiti for this kind of program? i'm not quite sure that any of
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us have figured this out. perhaps it is on a strategic water passage that causes it to invite such intense interest from the united states. perhaps because, um, haiti has gold and diamonds and perhaps oil, and all of that offshore, perhaps that has something to do with it. or perhaps it has to do with the anger that jefferson and george washington and so many felt with the exception of one of the early americans, thomas paine, who spoke out against what the u.s. was doing to haiti. because haiti had the temerity to strike out on its own and to stand up and to remain african. haiti is the most african
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country in the caribbean. its idea of its religion is when you die, you will return to guinea because they still remember africa. its art is inspired by africa. haiti is a country of a thousand proverbs when the african proverbs have been forgotten throughout the african diaspora x. be haiti is a country that knows its history, that invites almost the anger of the western society and particularly in france. they remember jean jacques -- [inaudible] and they remember tucent. sadly, i went to a school in
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jamaica to speak to high school students in jamaica not far from haiti, and i asked a group of 15-year-olds if they knew who tiew santa lieu v.a. cure went up, and not a hand went up. i asked if they knew who snoop dogg was, and all hands shot up. they knew nothing of the story or of people who whom we owe so much. but it still seems to gall the united states and western communities. so for that reason i am suspicious of our embrace of haiti. and it bothers me, and it is extreme to say what i said. but sometimes one has to wonder if they would be better off if network left them alone -- if america left them alone. his next question was --
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>> host: president obama's africa policy. pascal said that -- >> guest: i'm very concerned about that. i, i just think that when you get american military involved with your military, the disengagement does not come without consequences. i am -- typically these things lead to bad ends. and for the countries involved. when your country becomes of strategic usefulness to the, to the united states, you find that the management of your own democracy will be infinitely more difficult to administer. and the complicit spirit of black elites in america and how to awaken that.
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>> guest: oh, as i've gotten older i've become more disincliented to judge -- disinclined to judge people. i am -- the judging i do i try to make it of myself usually. i think most of us when we are doing things that others would feel are not the right things to do, we do out of an absence of knowledge, of consequences of what we're doing. i think most more thans irrespective of race -- most americans irrespective of race know very little about what goes on in countries around the world in response to american policies. american opposition, american aid, american involvement.
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and often these things, it is not a constructive relationship or not in the country's interest, but you don't know because you don't, you're just ill informed. and there's very little in america that would afford you opportunities to be well informed. we demonize the u.n. usually. even winston churchill at the u.n.'s beginnings said that it is better to geagea than war war -- jaw jaw than war war. so the u.n. is a wonderful opportunity for the entire world to gather, to disagree sometimes raucously. it is not a neat process, but a necessary process to resolve disputes. of we ought to embrace it.
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we ought to embrace our differences. we ought to embrace these human rights conventions, but we don't do that. we almost celebrate ignorance. and i'm talking about all of us of all classes, whites and blacks from the top of government to the bomb -- to the bottom of society. we do that. and because we are the most powerful country in the world, we do the world no service when we do that. leadership should be principled, and we should recognize that perhaps our opportunity is fleeting to save us from ourselves. we don't know the point at which we will have done so much damage to home earth that it will become unlivable. when we've overheated environment, the environment so
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irreversibly that no one can live here. but we can't support the kyoto accord which may be in itself too little too late. we can't because we're exceptional, and we listen to no one on anything. it is the worst kind of devastating stupidity that one would want to see in a country we like to describe as the greatest country in the world. it is so saddening. and in a democracy we all have a responsibility, for we are all democrats. and we all have to make it account to us for what it duds. for what it does. which means that we all have to be enlightened, we all have to know something about what it's doing and then participate. and i don't think we do that
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very well either. we seem to be diverted by the most frivolous stupidities. and television has done us no service either. >> host: mr. robinson, i think it's in "defending the spirit" you talk about reading people by looking at their face shape or characters of their face; the shape of their face, whether it's round or angola. >> guest: did i say that? >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: no, i can't do that. maybe -- >> host: i'm trying to find it. >> guest: read the language to me. >> host: please. i hope i'm not just making that up, but i will find that. [laughter] >> guest: well, i wrote that a long time ago. if that's the case, i can't remember. >> host: nancy in alta dee that, california, please, go ahead. >> caller: thank you to c-span, and, mr. robinson, you're just a
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marvelous, wonderful human being. >> guest: oh, thank you very much. >> caller: i'd like you to comment -- i have so many things i'd like you to comment on, but particularly on mr. obama's policies regarding the drones, rendition, lecturing to black people about their inadequacies and his support of the 1% and wall street and retroactive -- [inaudible] in telecoms. you know, i'm just very disheartened about this. and finally, the most important thing is why did mr. obama try to strong arm the president of south africa to keep president aristed there? and, last, you watch amy goodman and democracy now, and i had a hundred points i was going to e-mail you, but i said i can't bore mr. robinson with all my frustrations. but thank you again, again and again. >> guest: well, i should say that the president of south africa has to be applauded because he did everything to
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respond to president aristed's wish to go home. he and his wife mildred and their two girls had been in south africa for a long time. the south african government was, had been a wonderful host, but they wanted to go home. and i can't read president obama's mind. i don't know why he expended energy and resources trying to block president aristed's homecoming. as i've said, it was a violation of human rights law and sadly so. i disagreed very vigorously with the president on his role. >> host: okay. i've got to defend myself here. it was in "quitting america," and this is what you wrote, mr. robinson.
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when i was a small boy in grammar class, i developed the: >> guest: that's very true. that's very true. yes, i wrote that, and i felt that way, and i thought everyone did, that before that first impression is overturned by access and knowledge that the faces that seem to deliver certain messages, that faces
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that have act by lin -- aquiline, straight sort of geometric, slashing exactness to them that give you the impression of precision and rectitude and scientific perfection and all of that. and then there are round faces with soft features that are warm and fuzzy that seem to suggest something else, all of which is totally illogical and makes no sense once you get to know the person behind the faces. but this was a child's, a child's game to see how how ofti could come close to the truth in my reckonings. and i don't know how well i did.
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do you think there's any chance of a science behind any of this? >> host: i have no opinion on anything. [laughter] except the fact that i did read it in one of your books. that's all i care about right now. bridget posts on our facebook page: i am writing this for gene adams who is a 76-year-old black man who has followed you and your brother's career. he would like to know where he can get a picture of you and your brother. bridget goes on to tell mr. adams' story, born in louisiana, raised in watts, still feels there is injustice in america. and besides the picture, bridget concludes it this way: america talks about the founding fathers as if they were not slavers who also sold their black children because of the color of their skin. what country has moved on with total equality for blacks where a man can be a man? >> guest: well, many countries
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have. one of the great comforts about living where i live is that i don't feel the burden of that. that social mobility is quite accessible on kit's, and it is a wonderful pace and a wonderful -- space and a wonderful democracy, and it shows what great qualities can come to small places. um, i, i don't know how to answer that question about america. i do think that it's, that power as frederick douglass says,
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power concedes nothing without a demand, never has and never will, it is probably true that advantage once gained always expresses itself in an effort to maintain itself. and people then learned not to know each other so as to be able to dismiss people's sufferings that they have relegated to another place unseen to them. that's what happens. i can't begin to guess what it's like on the ore side -- on the other side. i used to wonder when i was a child why these people were being so cruel to us. and, um, what must they be like? i remember when i took some groceries when i was a 15-year-old grocery boy.
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i took some groceries to a home somewhere in a distant white community, the grocer had driven me in his car, and i had to take them into the house. and the family was in the kitchen, and i noticed they had an oven on the wall, in a brick wall, and i'd never seen a wall oven before. my family was, you know, my father was a teacher, but we had four children, so we didn't have a wall oven at least. but i noticed the family began to talk about intimate things right in front of me, and i was insulted by it because they spoke of these things as if i
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weren't there. i was invisible. what does that tell you about people? many we -- we still show movies in america on turner classic movies, movies in which black characters, movies from the 1930s that register fresh with me still. black characters, males always scared out of their skins, their eyes bubbled wide, whites envelopeing, scared of everything that the white female characters aren't afraid of.
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and black women characters are always come pull sorely huge and overweight while the white female characters are always pretty. and all of the grinning and bowing and scraping is just as offensive to me now as it was when i was a little boy, but they still show it. >> host: should they not? should it not be on tv? >> guest: it should not be on tv. it was humiliating then, it's humiliating now. but it makes money. >> host: laura tweets in to you, randall robinson, bush started
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the aids program in africa, the one good thing he did in foreign policy. >> guest: the aids program? i suppose i would concede him that. i don't know what else to say about president bush. i don't, i don't think he was concerned, um, substantively about a great deal of things and certainly not about black issues. and so i'm at a loss for words to comment beyond that about bush. >> host: rod in baltimore, please -- rodney in baltimore, please, go ahead with your question or comment for randall robinson. >> caller: yeah, hi, mr. robinson. >> guest: how are you? >> guest: i'm okay. it's a pleasure and honor to speak with you. the reason i was calling was
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disparities due to the american banking system where we lost most of our wealth and assets due to fraud in the housing sector and lower wages and employment. under the obama administration, why is it that african-americans are doing worse under his administration more than the, like i say, last, previous four administrations? thank you. >> guest: well, the unemployment among blacks is now 16-plus percent. and so, um, whites are doing marginally better. blacks are doing significantly worse. the question is how much of that do we ascribe to the president? of course, there are other market forces and factors, i suppose, but i think that's a good question to put to the president. i should say at the same time that nobody wants more than i do
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to see president obama succeed, succeed. it is very important to the black community. that he have a successful president, presidency. and i think to some extent that's why blacks have not been disposed to be harshly critical of him because of things we might think he should have done but has not done. i think the political space he operates in is very small on these kinds of issues, um, and i don't know if he is willing to push out that space to do more things, but i think it is a question he would have to
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answer. but objectively i don't think there's any question that if one uses employment as a measure, that blacks have done worse than virtually every other community since the beginning of his presidency. >> host: alfred, thomasville, alabama. >> caller: randall, how are you? >> guest: i'm fine, how are you? >> caller: oh, i'm fine. i have a couple questions, and i have a comment at the end. the first is where is st. kit's longitude and latitude? >> guest: well, do you know where san juan, puerto rico is? >> caller: yes. >> guest: about 300 miles due east of san juan. >> caller: which cruise line would you recommend? >> guest: oh, my. they all come there. [laughter] i'm really at a loss to recommend a cruise line.
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i don't know much about that. >> host: you don't much recommend tourism to st. kit's, let alone a cruise line. [laughter] >> guest: you know, all of the cruise lines come to st. kit's. you pick one, it will be there. >> caller: second, second question, randall, this is on the fact checking. did you go to school with patricia bart evans and marvin maurice -- [inaudible] >> guest: i don't think so. >> caller: back in many armstrong high school when your dad was coach in new orleans? >> guest: yes, sporty -- moses i knew well. a good friend of my sister jule. so, yes, i knew him. but the others i'm not so sure. now, remember, i left high school over 50 years ago. >> host: now, alfred, where did that question come from? >> guest: well, i'm married to one of his schoolmates,
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patricia, and she had a sister named teresa. >> guest: is that right? >> caller: yes. and, of course, as i say, a comment. i'm going to get off and let somebody else come on, but i'm going to highly recommend you introduce yourself to the cyber world. and i'm going on the web site and buying your books. >> guest: look, i'm a first to tell you, i need help. >> caller: well, i will. i'll be ringing your doorbell sooner than you think, how about that? >> guest: oh, god. [laughter] thank you. >> host: that was al fellowed in thomasville, alabama. speaking of your web site, mr. robinson, i forgot, bridget had asked for that gentleman who wanted a picture of you and your brother. is there a contact, way of contacting you via your web site? >> guest: a picture taken together was taken by ebony magazine a long time ago. they, in the studio in chicago they did several pictures of us.
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i don't have a copy of one of them, but presumely -- >> host: perhaps online. >> guest: -- they still have them in their files. of that would be explored through ebony magazine. >> host: "defending the spirit," just want to read a few lines. the family is also worried about max. he has become rich and famous, but he is not happy. he's a journalist, but he reads the news, and he is not pleased with himself. >> guest: he wanted to do more than that. he wanted to do cover conventions, he wanted to comment, he wanted to interpret the news, um, and he was being asked to accept the role of read and copy. he budget happy with that, no. >> host: when did he die? >> guest: let's see. the year, it's been about 20
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years now. he died when he was 49. >> host: of aids? >> guest: hmm? >> host: of aids? >> guest: of aids, yes. >> host: and you write about aids in some of your books and where it originated and how it began. what are your thoughts about aids? >> guest: well, you know, it's terrifyingly prevalent in poor communities globally. and it it's now a real terrifying force in women's situations, too, women's health. and it's a big factor in prison life and certain states not allowing, the last time i looked, condom use for prisoners
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in prison because they don't want to come to terms with the incidents of sex in prison and men bringing aids home to their, to their wives. that sort of thing. these are big issues that trouble us, and aids is less talked about now than it used to be. but there's till no cure. one can -- there's still no cure. one can take, of course, a copy of medicines and control it if you don't have a full blown disease. but it is a big problem in poor communities and a big problem in poor countries. and in africa as well, of course. >> host: sharon in denver, good afternoon.
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this is "in depth" on booktv on c-span2 with randall robinson. >> guest: good afternoon. the name is sharon, the pronunciation is sharon. >> guest: how you doing, sharn? >> caller: it's been an enlightening couple of hours. >> guest: thank you, sir. >> caller: i want to point out what a brilliant response that was to the gentleman a little bit ago that made the comment about us, to paraphrase, still whining about things that happened to us a couple hundred years ago. i hope he understands how ill informed the nature of his question is now. but kind of tieing into the reparation issue, i wanted to t happened over the last 10 or 12 years under the auspices of foreclosure. the congressional oversight panel did a report in october of
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2010, okay, and at that point they had done the analysis of the impact that the foreclosure -- which we consider home theft -- has had on the black and hispanic community. and can at that point they determined that it had caused the black and hispanics -- it had cost the black and hispanics $360 billion in wealth which probably, you know, now three years later we're talking about pretty close to 400. but it seems like, you know, not only is reparations something that is very difficult to get put on the table, but at the very same time $400 billion being stripped in wealth from the black and hispanic community, seems that that rolled the clock back quite a few years, even further back than tulsa and all those other cities along the south that were, that were burned down, you know, during the '20s. so i just kind of wanted to get your take on that. >> guest: no, i agree with you.
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that's been, that's been devastating. particularly when you hook at this -- when you look at this a family at a time and what it mean toss a family's financing. when one puts virtually everything that one has into a home thinking that's the safest place one can put it and then to lose everything like that, um, so i can't agree with you more that we ought to be are reassured that something will happen in response, that there ought to be some recourse to make these people whole. but it doesn't seem to be on the horizon, and i'm every bit as concerned about it as you are. >> host: this e-mail -- this is from diane in brooklyn, mr. robinson, we have about ten minutes left in the program.
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excuse me, mr. robinson, you seem like a brilliant, thoughtful, committed and well-intentioned man. i've heard many things listening to you that i did not know and wish had been more publicized. i am shik to your cause -- sympathetic to your cause, but i have a problem. my question is this: how can you expect to ever produce a generation of black youth psychologically capable of overcoming the terrible wound inflicted upon your people when you keep picking off the scab, when you keep passing on to your children the victim mentality to which i am sad to see you still maintain allegiance? >> guest: well, i don't know what to say. i don't think i can satisfactorily answer that question for that person. um, and i don't try to answer that question, frankly.
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i think those who have endured and those who have been wounded and those who were in trouble know what i'm saying. and they understand it. um, so i won't even try to answer that question. >> host: diane in brooklyn has a second question for you. if i were going to read one of your books, which one should it be? >> guest: oh, i don't know what to tell diane in brooklyn. she doesn't, um, seem to have an open mind. i would guess i'd ask her to read "the debt," and perhaps after she's read it she might be
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thoughtful about these things. or at least she can understand how we, of course, convey from one generation to the next the disabilities sustained. everything we do we come by from our parents for good or ill, and when our parents are crippled, so is the child. hurt people hurt people. when you have space to love, when you're whole enough, you always given by loving yourself -- you always begin by loving yourself. to love yourself, you have to know your story.
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when i was a little boy and hadn't heard of timbuktu and then discovered it's significance and the significance of africa and its an tig bity -- an tig bity, that all of greece's gods came from egypt and all of egypt's came from ethiopia before the dawn of time, that greece is science, it's math -- that greece's science, its math, its literature, so much are from ancient egypt. when i was a child, i needed to know these things just as whites need to know about ancient rome,
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ancient greece or ancient anything. that people that looked like them accomplished in antiquity. they need that, so do i. i don't need to know what their people did, i need to know the story of my people. >> host: heidi, freeport, maine. please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: thank you so much, mr. robinson. i so appreciate all the work that you've done for, against apartheid and what not. as a berkeley alum and a fan of -- not just a fan, but a friend of danny scheckter, producer of i think the title was africa today, i'd like to know how you feel that music has played in the fall of apartheid and what you think about the current endeavor bill mckibbon and his 350.org is calling upon
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for divestment from oil companies in portfolios? >> guest: well, i should -- when you mentioned danny scheckter, i haven't seen danny in a sum of years now. when i was in law school at hard saturday and we had taken over -- at harvard and we had taken over the president's office at harvard for a week, the president was a good friend, derek bach, who vacated his offices, and 30 of us stayed in the administration building for a week protesting harvard's holding of gulf oil shares in its portfolio. because of what gulf was doing to assist portugal in its war-making against angola and mozambique and guinea pew saw's effort to win independence from portugal. and danny was, was a real stump
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speaker on these issues at the time. i think a disinvestment is always a good tool to use in trying to win social goals. i don't think the south africans were able to understand anything that we were saying as long as we were saying something was unjust or wrong. but when they saw it affecting their bottom line and we were able to get past punishing sanctions, then we knew the beginning of the end was at hand. and so i always think that economic strategies are good to employ. at the time we were being told all the time that what we were suggesting wouldn't work.
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the then-assistant secretary of state for africa was saying that constructive engagement was the best way to go forward, to simply talk to the south africans about being nicer. and we said, well, that hasn't worked, and you've tried it for a very long time. let's try something new. and the moment the sanctions were passed and the moment the bottom line was affected, um, south africa began to become a new nation and a new society. i think that can happen on so many matters you're trying to change. >> host: mr. robinson, why did you not accept the honorary degree from georgetown university that you were offered? >> guest: because -- >> host: you planned on getting? >> guest: i got there that day, george -- what's his name? >> host: tenet. >> guest: tenet. i opened the paper that morning, found out that i had come all the way up from the caribbean to
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accept it. i was depply honored -- deeply honored. a black member of the georgetown administration had worked so hard to make this possible, and i was profoundly honored. i got up that night and opened the paper to see that george tenet was to be honored. he was, of course, instrumental in making this illegal and immoral war in iraq, the blitzkrieg of bombing and thinking about the innocent civilians underneath all those bombs that lit up the night when the war against iraq was opened.
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and the justification of a spate of lies before the united nations to make this possible fig leaf of security council cover was outrageous and despicable on my part. and he was at the very center of it. and i just thought that the value of the honorary degree from georgetown had been lost for me. and so i came up the next morning to meet with the georgetown people to tell them that i couldn't accept it, and i caught a plane and went home. >> host: kathleen in melville, new york, we just have a couple minutes left. >> caller: thank you. um, it's my great pleasure to speak with you, and it's been a very deeply moving and inspiring
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time listening to you today, and i'm sure for most if not all of the audience. >> guest: thank you, kathleen. >> caller: thank you. o.k.. my question is -- my husband and i own property on -- [inaudible] >> guest: oh, is that right? >> caller: yes. so we're kind of neighbors. i was wondering if you'd comment a little bit on the political situation. of course, you know about the international monetary fund and many other things going on there. i would appreciate hearing your view and maybe we'll meet one day. of i hope so. >> guest: well, i hope so. the -- we've met all of the international monetary fund requirements. the governs labor party has reduced the debt of the country almost by half over the last few
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years. our democracy is an energetic one that people say many things in the public square as the parties offense with each other. of but it is healthy, and it is open, and it is free. and i have really enjoyed the great privilege of living, living there given to me by my dear, loving wife, hazel, to be a participant in the process of her wonderful country. >> host: and finally, we have about a minute left, tad in indiana: how many african heads of state have you personally met in the past 20 years, and the post-cold war, post-'90s leaders which ones impress you the most, and which ones have disappointed you?
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>> guest: oh, my. i, i think it's impolitic to answer that question because i'm not in politics, i don't have anything to lose, and i've always felt that somehow i ought to be hell bent to say exactly what i think. but i, i will not say things when people have accorded me an opportunity to meet with them. i will not say things that will be offensive to those people later on. i've had my feelings hurt before, and i know what it feels like, and i don't think that's useful to do. >> host: and we're going to close the program from "quitting america," randall robinson writes: i tried to love america, its praises, its well-ordered marrow, its